Double-Duty: Boost Your Company and Your Career
You know that old saying—if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? Why wait until something goes wrong to learn how to fix it? The benefits of proactively enhancing IT skills and validating that training with vendor or vendor-neutral certifications are twofold.
As the speed of technology development accelerates, so too does the rate at which IT environments change and external threats proliferate. Knowing how to protect a corporate network, for example, is worth a lot more to a business than just your job.
Look at the damage Blaster did to corporate networks. Collectively, different versions of the virus-like worm caused between $5 million and $10 million worth of damage to Microsoft alone. However, Blaster was an insignificant event for corporations with carefully implemented, proactive security strategies. But creating comprehensive management policies requires the right skills and experience. Security certification aids prevention and strengthens an enterprise’s defenses by teaching how to envision, plan and implement the necessary procedures before security attacks occur.
Individual benefits go beyond saving your salary. In a recent survey of more than 500 students, The Training Camp found that salary increase was an added bonus to training in 30 percent of cases. In terms of furthering career prospects, 87 percent were promoted after training, and the majority stayed with their employer to see the full benefit.
The Blaster example highlights the three main benefits of training and certification—reducing risk, bringing down cost and improving performance.
So what training is best? This is more a question of what gives you and your company the best value for money. How can you embark on a high-end certification course without being out of the office for months, with training that delivers real skills and knowledge at the end, instead of just a piece of paper with a stamp on it?
Companies like the sound of e-learning because on paper it looks like the cheapest option. However, the price of the course alone does not give an accurate picture of the total cost of training. At the end of the course, ask yourself how much you have actually learned.
From a business perspective, can an employee do the job more efficiently as a result of the training? Training decision-makers must take into account the effectiveness of the teaching itself and the financial burden of taking highly paid personnel away from their work. Businesses should also focus on the mechanism by which the training is delivered and check its efficiency in terms of how quickly new knowledge can be put into practice.
Blended learning leverages three distinct styles of learning—auditory, visual and kinesthetic. Training courses are a combination of all three, with exercises and learning techniques to stimulate different parts of the brain and keep momentum.
Blended learning brings in a balance of knowledge and experience. Taking a test after note-taking and reading is like learning to drive from a manual without ever getting into a car. Even the most dedicated software developer is going to find it hard to earn a certification after just reading a book. And what company wants someone who is qualified “in theory”?
For a fast return on the job, training has to match the increased pace of change in IT today. The boot-camp approach, whereby students are in a classroom together and have the impact of peer pressure, can provide excellent results.
A boot-camp environment can feel like an overly intensive course of cramming, as opposed to the sensually stimulating, experience-based learning professionals need to excel. Similarly, it is important to have group-oriented classes focused on understanding, as this will help develop teamwork and communication skills.
With the right mix of teaching styles, students will stay engaged throughout a course, but only with an end goal. Taking the test at the same time, and preferably on-site, versus getting home and forgetting about it, gives the training course an additional dimension.
For the individual, this style of outcome-based training is crucial to validate new skills with a recognized certification. That validation can also lead to improved job prospects, including management responsibility. As more areas of enterprise security and data management are subject to government regulation, having qualified engineers will be essential for organizations. Employers, therefore, will need to invest in training and certification to protect their own networks, partners and customers.
In the end, training should deliver ROI, for both students and their employers, adding value to an individual’s credentials, job and business.
Ed Denzler is chairman and CEO at The Training Camp. Denzler has more than 15 years of consultative experience in the IT industry. He has earned numerous industry certifications, including MCSE + I, MCT, CNE, CNI, CCNA and CTT. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.